Wild rabbits eat different diets at different seasons of the year but follow a plant-based diet. The diet of wild rabbits consists mostly of plants, and primarily grass stems often found by rabbits on and near their warrens. Where you live will often determine if you can see clusters of rabbits feeding happily on the grass near their abode.
The grass is not the most nutritious option available to rabbits, so they often need to eat a lot of it to survive.
They’ve adapted to survive on a high amount of grass consumed, so it’s very simple for them to eat a lot. It is worth noting that wild rabbits rely on huge amounts of grass to get the number of calories they need to survive. Domesticated rabbits will not be able to eat similar amounts each day.
What they eat will be complemented with dry food, hay and vegetables, to help supply them with the calories and vitamins required to survive. They also do not chew as much as there is reduced risk of predators catching them unawares.
In many ways, wild and pet rabbits eat is very similar. Domestic rabbits rely on a diet similar to what they would consume in the wild.
The digestive process of a rabbit has not evolved a lot since they were taken as pets a thousand years ago, they are however physically used to the diets that they survived on. This is the main reason why pet owners try keeping the lifestyle of their pet rabbits as close as possible to that of the wild – especially baby bunnies.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that wild rabbits live longer than other species. As mentioned previously, rabbits do not have a preference for only eating carrots when hungry.
Instead, rabbits like to nibble on items like corn, peach, cherry leaves, and bark. They also prefer spruces and firs over oaks. Among these special foods, rabbits choose the greenest, freshest plants. So you might claim, that’s the favourite food of a wild rabbit.
What Do Wild Rabbits Eat during the Winter?
It often is subject to the particular location that they are in. Places that experience very little to no snow, will have rabbits that prefer to nibble on burned, dying plants and any other green leaves they may find.
In reality, green plants grow almost throughout the year in several places in south-east England. Rabbits in areas like this will often feed on the green plants they see–even if they’re not their choice.
Rabbits can usually be noticed grazing, foraging and playing in fields through the year, as there is usually a fair amount of green plants left growing.
Though, in areas with a lot of snowfall, rabbits have to be crafty. Rabbits, after all, don’t hibernate, and they have something to feed! In these regions, rabbits frequently fall back on the diet of tree bark, twigs, and pine needles. There is a preference for a number of these products, and the bark of apple trees seems to be especially prized.
Usually, you’re not supposed to give any particular food to wild rabbits. But if there’s heavy snow around them and there’s a shortage of food, you should send them any specific food.
- The best food you can carry to the wild rabbits is grass. It’s safe, and it’s also their favourite.
- You can provide timothy hay, alfalfa hay, orchard grass or oat hay.
- When you choose to give them grain, you can give them vegetables, wheat, rye, or something like that.
- You can remember first of all, before supplying grain types of food. Because the feed draws rabbits, squirrels, or mice.
- Apart from that, you could have a bowl of water. It’s a very popular scene that wild bunny doesn’t get enough drinking water during the winter. So, put some water on them.
When do Do Wild Rabbits Eat?
Rabbits eat at two key times of the day – dawn and dusk. Early morning and late evening are the safest periods when wild rabbits can leave their burrows, dense undergrowth to feed.
This is usually because predators are usually less aggressive at this period. The reduced lighting also makes it harder for hunters to detect a wild rabbit.
The sun rising or setting is often an indication that wild rabbits can begin to graze vigorously.
After eating to their heart’s content, they eat a lot slower and graze more cautiously until the environment that they are in becomes unsafe. In summary, wild rabbits will have approximately two half-hour bursts of grazing a day.
For example, this schedule can differ depending on where they are and time of year. During the winter, because of the insufficient food and the need to find water, a wild rabbit will be outdoors a lot longer to graze and burrow for food.
Following a schedule of intense feeding like this, wild rabbits excrete strong faecal pellets. These droppings are highly nutritious and rabbits can also feed on them. They are one of the key factors that rabbits can withstand severe winter conditions with little food options available.
How Much Water Do Wild Rabbits Need?
In reality, water is extremely important for the wild rabbit’s diet. In reality, one study actually showed that the consumption of water was actually more important than the intake of food when it came to a rabbit maintaining its weight.
In other terms, rabbits with limited water but a lot of food lost a lot of weight compared to your average rabbit.
This is attributed to the unique digestive system of the rabbit. Clearly put, a wild rabbit diet requires a lot of water to digest. If this water is not sufficient, they actually can not absorb the food they eat!
This may be one of the main reasons rabbits favour young, green plants to others. Such plants clearly have the highest water content and therefore allow the rabbit to meet its daily water needs in addition to providing nutrients and electricity.
This is the reverse of dry plants and leaves, which do not produce any water. When the bunny consumes certain kinds of plants, he or she will have to pursue drinkable water elsewhere. This would steal precious feeding time and increase the risk of the rabbit to predators.
Essentially, opting to eat plants with high water content simply makes sense for wild rabbits.
This may also clarify why the diet of the domestic rabbit is somewhat different from the diet of the wild rabbit.
How to Feed a Wild Rabbit
It’s not a very easy task like a horse. Second, you should be cautious. And you should make sure that you don’t do damage to a wild rabbit instead of doing well. If you like to feed wild rabbits, m you should adopt the following instructions.
Choose a particular spot on your yard
- It may be a good decision to choose the grassy area of your yard.
- You can put some extra twigs and barks in the yard during the cold months.
- Don’t bother the wild rabbits when they turn to the grass or leaves on the yard.
- Do not slash all the lawn in the yard or in the field. Hold some grass in a position in the yard.
- Do not use chemicals in the yard.
What wild rabbits consume is somewhat different from what house rabbits eat, but you should change easily. Grass and hay, whether wild or domesticated, are important in a rabbit diet. In fact, wild rabbits need to have wide-open spaces or at least a special time devoted to fitness and activity.
- Blas, C. and Wiseman, J. ‘Nutrition of the Rabbit’, CAB International (2010)
- Valencak, T. ‘Wild and Domestic Rabbits Differentially Respond to Mammary Pheromone’, Journal of Experimental Biology (2008)